The Lion’s Club and DARE Freedom Festival at the Adams County Fairgrounds on July 5 was a great success according to Adams County Commissioner and Lion’s Club member Stephen Caraway.
“On behalf of the Lion’s Club, we want to thank the many folks that participated. Every aspect of the weekend was a success, from the weather to the parade, the pancake breakfast, the Freedom Festival, the fireworks. We were very fortunate to have an outstanding group of sponsors. While this was a fundraiser for the Lion’s Club and the D.A.R.E. program, we looked at it as a community service.”
The fireworks for the show were purchased from Rozzi’s Fireworks of Loveland. They also provide the fireworks for the WEBN Fireworks Show during the Labor Day Weekend. One of the Lion’s Club members is Matt Sheely, who is a private contractor that puts on shows for Rozzi’s, and he was able to design the show. Sheely was an employee of Rozzi’s for five years, before branching off into private contracting.
The show lasted 16 minutes, a little over half the length of the WEBN Fireworks display on the river every September. The layout of the fireworks took over 12 hours and used three separate sites at the fairgrounds.
“I like to spread things out, so the fireworks have a more three dimensional view to them,” Sheely said.
Aerial shells measuring two and a half to five inches and multi-shot devices called cakes were set to a scripted show of music selected by Sheely.
“I always start with the national anthem. Many shows end with the anthem, but that limits what you can do as a finale with the fireworks. We ended with ‘America the Beautiful,’ and played some country music between them. ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ was also one of the songs we used.”
The fireworks are fired off both a hand fired and a electric fired system. The finale used over 400 shells in the last 30 seconds, which is physically impossible to hand fire. Sheely hopes that eventually they will be able to afford an entirely computer controlled system.
“We used to do this every year, then we stopped about eight years ago,” Sheely said. “We’re intending to revive the fireworks show and do it every year, just as big as we had it this year. Next year, the Fourth of July is on a Saturday, so the parade will be able to head straight to the Fairgrounds and the day will just continue from there.”
To be able to held cover the costs of the fireworks, the Lion’s Club is considering letting individuals sponsor a specific firework.
“Some of the fireworks can cost over $65 to $75 per shell. The really nice, Spanish-made gold charcoal shells - the ones that leave a willow-like trail - are very expensive.”
The festival was preceded the day before by the Fourth of July Fair down Main Street in West Union, also hosted by the Lion’s Club. According to Caraway, the Fourth of July Parade is one of the county’s longest running traditions, having started over a generation ago. For the first time, the parade had two bands playing - the Liberty Band and the West Union Performing Arts Steel Drum Band.
The parade also featured two veterans receiving quilts of valor from the Scrappy Quilters to mark their service to our country. The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started by Catherine Roberts in her sewing room in Seaford, Delaware in 2003, and was dedicated to welcoming veterans home with the love and gratitude they deserved. The foundation has grown into a national grassroots organization. A quilt of valor is a lap-sized quilt made from quality fabrics. As of January 2014, more than 95,000 quilts have been awarded across the country.
The recipients of the quilts of valor in the parade were Carroll Newman, who served two years in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and Burnis Richard Eades, who served from June 1968 to June 1971. Newman trained at Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga., before deploying as a member of the Infantry First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. Eades served with the 82nd Airborne Division Eleventh Armored Cavalry in two tours.
The horse show held in the center ring on July 4 and 5 had over 30 classes for competition with 200 entries. Those receiving first place awards include Sara Crothers, Hannah Rideout, Zeke Eldridge, Chris Bradford, Donna Brodt, Courtney Pitts, Shawn Gould, Addi Jackson, Nick Fisher, Ashley Valley, Melissa Downs, Cora Gillespie, Brent Kelch, Wesley Kelch, Taylor Hall, Deborah Ward, C.J. Smart, Mary Hayes, and Michael Cooper.
The Freedom Festival on July 5 was an all-day event, starting with a pancake breakfast held by the Lions’ Club from 8 to 11 a.m. A 5k Run/Walk and Blood Drive also filled the morning hours. Starting at noon, the inflatable adventure land was up and running for kids, and old-fashioned festival games like throwing a ball to knock over stacked jars, were available to play.
A Stihl Chainsaw Competition was held in the center ring at 4 p.m. Bill Wickerham showed off his skill at being a lumberjack as he took first place in the men’s competition, and Abigail Inman took first place in the women’s competition.
At 6:30 p.m. a flag retirement ceremony was held by local Boy Scouts. The ceremony involves burning the flag in pre-cut pieces, as the significance of each piece is read out. Taps is played by trumpet as the final piece is placed on the fire. After the solemn service finished, the band Hot Rod and the Fast Lanes performed from 7:45 p.m. to the start of the fireworks at 10 p.m.
Founder level sponsors of the festival include Barry’s Chevrolet, Roy Gabbert, McDonald’s, C-103, Blake Pharmacy, and Adams County Commissioner Stephen Caraway.